May is National Foster Care Month and it’s a time to bring awareness to the fact that each of us can have a role in enhancing the quality of life for children in foster care. Full-time foster parenting isn’t for everyone, but everyone can do something to help a child in need.
While there are many ways to help, this post will focus on 5 different ways. At the bottom of this post, we will include a list of resources if you’d like more information!
Become a Back-up or Respite Provider
Becoming a licensed respite provider enables you to provide hands-on care to foster children without having to do it for an extended period of time. Respite care is needed when a full-time placement can’t be found or foster parents go out of town and need to leave the children with someone who has the proper training. For more information, contact your local Department of Children and Family Services branch.
Serve a Foster Family
There are countless ways to serve! Jamie from Foster the Family Blog suggests these practical and valuable ideas – “Pick up a prescription. Clean the house. Mow a lawn. Drop off coffee. Drive kids. Fold laundry. Pick up milk. Make a meal. Buy diapers. Collect furniture. Share baby gear. Ask the foster families in your life how they specifically and practically need help and volunteer to help!”
Become a CASA
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a volunteer who is court-authorized to speak on behalf of a foster care child. A CASA’s role is to get to know the child and to speak with the foster child’s birth parents, foster parents, teachers, social workers, attorneys, and medical professionals. Then, they take in what everyone in the child’s life has said and make recommendations in the best interests of that child. In short, a CASAs goal is to ensure that the child’s needs and wants are heard.
Undoubtedly, CASAs can be a source of stability and hope for an at-risk child. Find out more here.
Become a Big Brother or Big Sister
Mentoring a foster child or youth can make a significant, life-long difference! Spending 3-4 hours a week with a child makes them feel valued and loved just for who they are. Teach them a new hobby or learn about theirs. The important thing is to have fun! Check out the Big Brother/Big Sister website for more information.
Donating gently used items or a financial gift to a local agency are guaranteed to be put to good use. Most foster children arrive at their first placement with little to no possessions. Also, many foster parents spend more money than the state provides on care-taking essentials. Donating Christmas gifts and back-to-school supplies are always needed and appreciated!
For more information and other ideas to help foster care children, check out the list of resources below: